British Turks asked to remember victims of Bloody Christmas 1963
The human rights group Embargoed! will be holding a candlelit vigil outside the Greek Cypriot High Commission in central London on 21 December 2010. The all-night presence will remember the 133 Turkish Cypriot victims who were killed or went missing in Cyprus 47 years ago during a 10 day period dubbed ‘Bloody Christmas’. British Turks are being asked to show their support by purchasing and wearing a black ribbon bow on 21-22 December or to pass by the vigil itself.
The London vigil, timed to coincide with the Republic of Cyprus’ fiftieth anniversary of independence, will see a candle lit for each of the victims lost during 21-31 December 1963. Activists will wear black ribbon bows as a mark of respect, while leaflets will be handed out to passers by. The action forms part of 50 Dark Years – Tell the Truth!, a year-long campaign by Embargoed! that is challenging the Greek Cypriot authorities for ‘airbrushing out’ the suffering they inflicted on Turkish Cypriots. The group is also calling on British politicians and commentators to get their historical facts right when they speak about the Cyprus Conflict.
The events of December 1963 was the first step in the notorious Akritas Plan, a systematic campaign of terror orchestrated by Greek Cypriots who wanted to take control of the island by forcing Turkish Cypriots to accept inferior rights. It marked the start of the Cyprus Conflict and resulted in the collapse of the three year old power-sharing Government of the Republic of Cyprus. Although well documented in newspapers and diplomatic exchanges at the time, Embargoed! argues that ‘Bloody Christmas’ and the subsequent brutal oppression of Turkish Cypriots that prompted the intervention of Turkey 11 years later have been erased from historical record by the Greek Cypriot authorities.
Embargoed! activist Ersu Ekrem says, “I was a young boy living in Nicosia in December 1963. I clearly remember the fear we Turkish Cypriots faced when for no apparent reason we came under attack. Those 10 days during Christmas and New Year were horrific – people were killed or went missing or were forced out of their homes at gun point simply for being Turkish.” He continued, “It’s about time the Republic of Cyprus authorities came clean about their role in the Cyprus Conflict. We cannot solve Cyprus on a lie and it is shocking that nearly 50 years on, many Greek Cypriots still believe the conflict started with a random invasion by Turkey in July 1974 when in fact it was their own politicians back in December 1963 who started it.”
The ‘Bloody Christmas’ candlelit vigil will take place outside the Greek Cypriot High Commission located at 13 St James’s Square, London SW1Y 4LB. It will start at 5pm and run until the following morning. Details of where to purchase a black ribbon bow are on Embargoed!’s website and Facebook page.